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September 26, 2019
Does the infrastructure platform matter when you move SAP® applications to the cloud?
By: Prof. Dr. Alexander Zeier, Tomas Kandl and Muthu Maran

Advised by Prof. Dr. Alexander Zeier

If you’re like most companies today, you’re already moving some workloads and services into the cloud. Even systems that are fundamentally critical to your business, like ERP, can now be moved. But why would business leaders care what infrastructure platform provider is chosen? For organizations with SAP® applications, there are significant business impacts to these infrastructure choices.

Google has made it especially enticing to run SAP applications and SAP HANA® databases on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and to do so in a fully virtualized environment. At this year’s Google Cloud Next, the company announced two big advancements that make now the perfect time to choose GCP for running your complete SAP estate and more:

  • Support for larger virtual machines (VMs)

  • Live migration for minimal downtime

Larger VMs support nearly any SAP footprint

Now generally available, GCP offers 6TB and 12TB VMs certified by SAP (“appliance” certification as opposed to “TDIv5” certification), with even larger instance sizes on the roadmap coming up in the next six months. This is making it possible for almost any company to fit its SAP HANA footprint in a virtual environment. In most cases, there’s no need to become locked into a "bare-metal" solution (i.e., non-virtualized SAP HANA on a dedicated server) for one to three years, which is typical of other cloud providers. This brings some important advantages.

For example, with VMs you don’t have to size the solution in advance as with bare-metal. Upfront sizing is notoriously difficult—you inevitably either over-size, resulting in waste, or under-size, which can lead to costly scalability issues. With data volume growing in some cases at a rate of 100GB or even TB per month, proper sizing can be a nagging problem. In contrast, Google Cloud allows you to fluidly scale your VMs, taking advantage of the latest underlying hardware, and pay only for the resources you use. To sweeten the pot, Google Cloud also offers Sustained Use Discounts of up to 30 percent depending on usage, and Committed Use Discounts of up to 70 percent for memory-optimized VMs.

For some clients, even a 12TB VM is still too small, and a tiering strategy may be appropriate. Google Cloud currently supports SAP HANA dynamic tiering and extension nodes for customers who are looking at a tiering strategy (i.e., hot, warm and cold data) for their data in SAP HANA and plan to offload less frequently accessed warm data from in-memory. GCP also supports SAP HANA integration natively with BigQuery through smart data access which enables a customer to extend SAP HANA’s capabilities and query data stored within BigQuery by means of virtual tables.

All this said, it’s important to recognize bare-metal may still be your only option if you need more than 18TB, run Oracle, or have data sovereignty requirements which are options also available with Google Cloud and Accenture in a collocation solution.

Live migration mitigates the cost of planned SAP maintenance

In my work, I’ve found that large enterprises have, on average, up to 24 days of planned SAP application maintenance per year. Traditionally, this would mean at least some periods of downtime. Depending on the industry or operational structure of your company, the cost of such downtime could reach millions if not tens of millions of dollars. Google Cloud’s Live Migration technology automates all maintenance and updates up to the host layer, thereby minimizing downtime and decreasing associated maintenance costs for SAP systems.

Drive innovation at scale and at speed with GCP as the digital transformation platform

BBVA Seguros, a company of the BBVA Group, and one of the top 10 Spanish Insurance companies, has selected Accenture and Google Cloud to transform its financial landscape including SAP S/4HANA®. Besides GCP’s infrastructure benefits, and the true consumption-based, pay-per-second pricing, BBVA Seguros has selected GCP as a strategic platform to drive innovation at speed and at scale to enable the transformation of its financial business models. In addition, BBVA Seguros has adopted Google Suite (G Suite) to drive improved global cross-location collaboration.

Lean on AGBG to streamline your move to GCP

A number of large organizations are already realizing the benefits of running SAP applications on GCP with the help of the Accenture Google Cloud Business Group (AGBG). AGBG is a federated group of industry experts and certified GCP technologists able to plan, design and implement your SAP landscape on the Google Cloud globally.

Whether you need to innovate at speed and scale, you're looking to rehost SAP landscapes to GCP, or take on a complete transformation to SAP S/4HANA on GCP, you may want to consider Google Cloud and enable a true data platform combining Google data and AI/ML, IoT, and data lakes services. Additionally, GCP is also a certified cloud provider for SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) offering the ability to extend your SAP S/4HANA applications into SCP.

AGBG and ASBG (Accenture SAP Business Group) bring you the resources, tools and experience to make your move successful. My April 9 blog laid out several key considerations for running SAP applications on GCP along with the tools and services AGBG and ASBG bring to the table. It’s a comprehensive offering that includes helping you take full advantage of larger VMs and live migration. Our ultimate goal is to enable you to get the most out of GCP to maximize agility, availability, and cost efficiency for your SAP systems today and as your needs evolve in the future.

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